As I sit here writing, it’s a cold, dark start to what we Christians now call “Good Friday.” I say we call it “good” now because, for anyone with a heart on that original Friday long ago, the day felt anything but ‘good.’
For the followers of Jesus and those in Jerusalem, who had welcomed Him as conquering King and salvation-bringer a few short days earlier, it was a bewildering, confusing Friday. For the 11 still-faithful who had lived and listened at His feet, the broken bread of the previous night had turned into broken hearts—and it was a Friday full of sadness and shame, a day full of fear. For the mother of Jesus, who had birthed Him and bathed Him and dressed Him and held Him, for this mother who had watched her infant grow into “…a man appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel,”—that Friday was a day long dreaded. She must have instinctively known, the moment word first reached her of His arrest, that this was the day “…a sword will pierce through your own soul also” (Luke 2:34,35)…
For those living through that dark morning so many years ago, it was a day marked by bewilderment and confusion, sadness and shame, fear and dread. Not one of these people were thanking God it was Friday. But what was ‘Good Friday’ like for Jesus?
Jesus didn’t wake up to that Friday. He hadn’t slept all night. John 18:28 tells us that as the darkness began to recede into dawn, Jesus was being dragged in chains from the presence of the Jewish High Priest to the palace of Pilate. As we wake up this Good Friday for just another day at the office, Jesus was entering the ring for the final fight of His life.
Catching a glimpse of His attitude that morning is difficult, but I think these words found in the book of Philippians help…
5”Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
6Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,
7but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
8And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
and became obedient to death—
even death on a cross!”
After a night in the garden where comfort could be coaxed from none but angels, after a betrayal sealed with a kiss and a denial crowed harshly by a rooster, after all of this, Jesus stumbled into Friday a man full of sorrows, saturated with humility.
I used to ask people the question: “Who took Jesus’ life?” Some have answered that it was Judas, since his betrayal is what set everything in motion. Some have said it was the Pharisees. Others say it was Pilate, or the Roman soldiers who actually beat the nails through the flesh of His hands later that afternoon. But if any one of those answers were true, Good Friday would not be good. The reason it’s good at all is because no one took Jesus’ life from Him. He gave it freely, in humble obedience to His Father. ‘Good Friday’ is “good” for us because it was a bad day for Jesus. It is “good” for us because Jesus freely sacrificed what would have been good for Him, and instead—
21God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Thank God it’s Friday.